20 Things Your Bible Worker Will Never Tell You

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Since this is my 20th year of being a Bible Worker Lay Pastor, in keeping with the theme of “20”, here is my list of 20 things your Bible Worker will never tell you. While I have put the list together mostly myself from my own experiences, it is not entirely my own.  A couple other Bible Workers have chipped in too with a couple contributions of their own. No names, as the whole purpose was to give them a voice while remaining anonymous, so they can truly tell you what they will never tell you. If some of these points seem a little harsh, they are not intended to be. They are only intended to be real.

Twenty Things Your Bible Worker Will Never Tell You

  1. If I seem pre-occupied when you try to have a conversation with me at church, it’s because I am. I’m teaching Sabbath School, probably preaching too, and keeping an eye out for the people I invited to church today. Call me during the week and I can give you my undivided attention.
  2. I really appreciate the $25.00 gift card you gave me for Christmas. I know since I’m still wearing my worn out shoes it looks like I haven’t used it yet but I have. I used it to buy school supplies for a struggling family I’m working with.
  3. Tell me you can’t read and I can work with you and help you. Keep telling me you forgot your Bible or can’t find it and we will never get anywhere.
  4. When you tell me your family is praying for me every day, it means the world to me. When you call me and pray with me it makes my day.
  5. When I called and told you about a Bible student I have who needs a ride to church, and you told me it’s not on your way, I wasn’t really asking if it was on your way. I was just asking if you would do it. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I go out of my way for people all week long. Why should I be the only one? Fact is I do try to match people up in the same area, but I also try to match personalities and male to male and female to female.
  6. Don’t be afraid to hang out with me because I may see you’re not perfect. I’m not perfect either.
  7. You may have driven by and seen me on the golf course this afternoon. What you didn’t see was me spending the entire night before, in the Emergency waiting room, praying with one of my Bible students, while their wife had emergency surgery.
  8. I mean it when I say call me anytime. If everyone is afraid to call because I may be busy then that means no one will call and I won’t be busy. I depend upon you to call and keep me busy. I like to be busy.
  9. You may not feel like you know the Bible very well, but that observation and comment you just made about that verse we just read was pretty good. I will be sharing it with all the people I study with from now on. Thanks!
  10. When I am studying with your children in your home I would really like you to join us. If you do not care to join us, please don’t leave the house to run errands. I know you trust me, but the question is, do I trust your family?
  11. I really am interested in what you have to say, but I can’t answer your question until you quit talking.
  12. I use my lap top when giving Bible studies, and following up on leads and making appointments. That’s why it looks like I’m on Facebook a lot. Plus Facebook is another way I stay in touch with my Bible students.
  13. I may use you as an illustration in one of my sermons, but I won’t use your name and may even switch your city and gender in my story to protect your identity.
  14. I truly appreciate your offerings in support of evangelism and the Bible Worker fund, but just so you know, I work for Jesus and not the richest person in the church. He is the One who died for me and the One I am going to be faithful to.
  15. When I ask you to greet for an evangelistic meeting I need you there for the whole night. I may need something handed out at the end, plus it does not look good for you to greet everyone and then, them watch as you get in your car and go home. Same for special music. Watching you come up on stage, sing a song, and then go home before the speaker begins, does not do much for the continuity of the meeting.
  16. The literature in the literature rack in the church lobby is for visitors. Please buy your own literature if you are a member.
  17. I wish you wouldn’t use that study Bible, or would at least understand that the study notes are not inspired and are not 100% accurate.
  18. On my day off I will gladly explain to you the plan of salvation, but I really don’t want to use my day off debating whether Adam had a navel or not.
  19. Remember last fellowship lunch, when you were huddled with your little clique and the visitor I am studying with was sitting by himself? Yes, after I asked you went over and invited him to your table, but he saw me ask you. It would have been a lot more effective if you had reached out to him without me having to ask. Thank you for offering to give him a ride to the doctor that week though.  Connecting with him outside of church was a nice touch.
  20. Our study group has 10 members and meets for 75 minutes. We really care about you and what you have to say, and will give you the floor all night if you really need it. At the same time please be respectful of the other members of the group and that they too may have something on their hearts as well. Thank you to those who are mindful of the math and realize 10 people can’t talk for 20 minutes each within 75 minutes.

Twenty Things I’ve Learned in Twenty Years of Bible Work

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

While I became a literature evangelist in 1990, it just occurred to me, that it has now been 20 years since I first became a Bible Worker in the Owasso-Claremore district of the Oklahoma Seventh-day Adventist Conference in 1993. A lot of water has passed under the bridge and through the baptisteries since then, and over time I would like to share some of my experiences over the last twenty years. Tonight, I would like to begin with a list of twenty things I have learned in twenty years of Bible Work. Please enjoy.

Twenty Things I’ve Learned in Twenty Years

 1. Don’t take it personally when people love you. That’s right when they love you. After leaving a district in Oklahoma, I went to work in a three church district in the Fort Worth-West Texas area. Everyone loved and supported me so much I started thinking I was a good Bible Worker. Fact is I was very inexperienced and was making mistakes left and right. After a few years I finally woke up and realized, these people don’t love me because I am good Bible Worker, they love me because they are kindhearted loving people. They were so good they could love anybody. Even me.  Lesson learned: Just because people love you, it doesn’t mean you are good.

2. Ask people if they like to read out loud before you ask them to read a Bible verse. You would not believe how many adults can’t read well or at all. Don’t embarrass them.

3. Don’t assume people know where the books of the Bible are. You may know where to find Main Street in your hometown, but that’s because you grew up there.

4. Try to keep your Bible Studies just under an hour. Even less for kids and teens. Leave them wanting more, instead of just wanting you to leave. If they keep asking questions, that’s fine. You can stay longer.

5. Don’t send people on a guilt trip for missing or cancelling a Bible study. When they call and say “we are just too tired” tell them to get plenty of rest, have a good week and you will see them next week.

6. Be flexible. I am a Bible Worker. That means I teach the Bible and encourage my Bible students to search the Scriptures and do their lessons. At the same time I have learned that I also have to be prepared to not give a Bible study. A while back I was studying with a lady who would meet me after work and talk about her work problems, before I would finally stop her and begin the study. One week we met and I decided I was just going to listen and not say a word until she quit talking. About an hour later she stopped talking. I had a prayer and she went home happy. Another time I was studying with a married couple who had toddlers and a lot of stress. After several weeks of studies, I told them the next week when I came by, instead of having a Bible Study I would be taking them out to eat at the local Mexican Restaurant, nothing fancy. They got grandma to babysit and when I picked them up they were all dressed up like we were going someplace ritzy. I don’t know how long it had been since they had a night out, but it turned out to mean more to them than I imagined.

7. Ask your Bible students to do three or four lessons a week, so maybe they will do at least one.

8. Be very punctual and dependable with your appointments, but if you have an appointment tonight with someone who has already stood you up three times in a row, and someone else calls and says they have free tickets to tonight’s game, go to the game. Odds are your appointment was going to fall through anyway. Nothing I hate more than turning down an invite so I can keep an appointment with someone who is going to stand me up. Of course don’t stand them up. Call and reschedule.

9. In the past, a new Bible study student would call and talk my ear off while my dinner grew cold, about his theory of UFOs and Martian invasions. I don’t let that happen anymore. I finally realize the difference between people God has put in my path, and people Satan has put in my path just to distract me from the people God has put in my path.

10. If a woman calls you at 12:30 in the morning, and says, “I would not have called this late, but I just drove by your place, and saw your lights on,” be sure you keep your distance from this woman.

11. Don’t take money from a woman who takes you out to eat, and then tries to slip you $100.00 for gas for your car and ministry. Believe me.  It’s not really for gas or your ministry. I found that out when she called me at 12:30 in the morning when she “just happened to be passing by my place.”  Dodged that bullet. Thank you Jesus!

12. I know you are not going to believe me, but I am going to tell you anyway because it’s the truth. Whenever someone mails in a Bible Study request card, do not call them! Just show up at their house. You will never get an initial Bible study appointment from calling them first. Never. I have been doing this 20 years and I swear it never works! You can call and ask if they want Bible studies, and then just tell them you will drop them by sometime, but if you try to set up an initial visit over the phone it will never work! Never! Let me guess, you are still going to call aren’t you? Okay, don’t be surprised if 20 years later it has never worked.

13. When you get a request for Bible studies 100 miles away, just mail the request to a church in that area. However, if they are 15 miles or so away, go see them yourself, even if it is just outside your area. Don’t mail the card to the church in that area. I hate to say it, but odds are nothing is going to happen with it. Do it yourself so you know it’s been done. If the people are interested and you get a study going, and decide it’s too far away for you to drive, invite someone from that church in the actual area to come with you a couple times, and then they take over the study.

14. Don’t let people send you on guilt trips for not doing tasks they should be doing. You don’t have to do everything that the church needs done. I bet other people go to your church besides just you, so why are you doing all the work? Because no one else will do it? That doesn’t make it your problem. You are not the Savior of the world, so don’t let people lay that responsibility on you.

15. Jesus is your pastor. The first thing I noticed working in a three church district was, I was always where the Lead pastor was not. I felt like I did not have a pastor, until an elderly mentor pointed out to me that psalms 23:1 says the Lord is my pastor. (Shepherd in English, Pastor in Spanish. Same thing.) When Samuel died in the middle of David’s crisis with Saul, David wondered who was going to help him now. In psalms 121 he declared God would be His helper.

16. Write down where you preach each sermon. It’s so embarrassing to preach the same sermon twice in the same church.

17. Be leery of the church member who keeps boasting all the time about being vegan. Like the car salesman who keeps talking about the nice stereo, hoping you will like the stereo so much, that you won’t notice the car has no tires, so the member boasting about their diet is hoping to divert your attention so you won’t notice their porn addiction.

18. Don’t waste so much time trying to make other people interested in the Bible, that you neglect the people who already are interested.

19. Whenever you enter a home, unless you are sure the entire family knows you are there, try to sit with your back to the hallway. Just trust me on this.

20. A good night’s sleep will solve most of your problems. A lot of the things that worry you are not even worth worrying about. They are just little distractions trying to get your mind off the big picture and greater purpose of your ministry. Instead of obsessing over things, keep busy and play a little golf to keep things balanced. The more balanced your routine the less you will find yourself obsessing over things.